Warriors-Rockets Preview

James Harden had one of the worst games of his career his last

time out. If the Houston Rockets are going to avoid a season-high

third straight loss when they host the Golden State Warriors on

Friday night, they’ll likely need better play from their star

guard.

Harden went 3 of 17 from the field and 0 for 10 from 3-point

range in a 97-88 loss to Phoenix on Wednesday. His 10 misses from

beyond the arc were tied for the most 3-point attempts without a

make in his five-year career.

“We have 82 games, so it’s going to happen. We’re going to miss

some shots,” said Harden, who is still battling a foot injury that

kept him out of four games in November. “Other guys have to step up

and make plays and fit our system.”

The Rockets (13-7) lead the NBA in points per game at 108.1, and

Harden is among seven Houston players who average at least 9.5.

Injuries have cut into that depth, though, as starters Chandler

Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik sat out against Phoenix.

“I don’t care who’s not there, you just gotta go play and we

didn’t play the right way,” coach Kevin McHale said.

Center Dwight Howard, who signed with the Rockets last summer

after considering Golden State and several other teams, has gone

four straight games without a blocked shot for the first time in

his career.

The Warriors (11-8) have won two straight, both in dramatic

fashion. Two days after winning by two in Sacramento, Golden State

rallied from a 27-point halftime deficit to top the Raptors 112-103

on Tuesday. It shot 48.8 percent in the second half and Stephen

Curry scored 23 of his team-high 27 points after the break.

“I’ve got a team that competes,” coach Mark Jackson said. “When

we are at our best we are pushing the basketball and making

plays.”

Curry and backcourt mate Klay Thompson lead a Warriors team that

shoots 43.7 percent from 3-point range, best in the NBA.

“We have a lot of shooters,” Thompson said. “As a shooter you’ve

got to be a continuous player, not worry about the last shot and

just let it fly.”

Houston has allowed its last two opponents to go a combined 21

for 41 from 3-point range.

“We’re a team that has to be on all cylinders at all times,”

forward David Lee said. “Play as a team the entire time we’re on

the floor, and play with a lot of intensity and energy or we can

get beat by anybody.”

The Rockets have won 17 of the last 20 meetings between the

teams, averaging 112.8 points.

However, Houston’s nine-game home winning streak in the series

was snapped in the Warriors’ last visit March 17, as Curry and

Thompson combined for 55 points in a 108-78 victory.